Sunday, June 29, 2014

The World of Anne and Claude

This afternoon I was able to immerse myself, after too long, in the glimmering but somber world of Anne of Brittany, my protagonist—extending to that of her daughter, Queen Claude. How I wished I had a magnifying glass—and even more that I could touch—the detailed miniature manuscripts on display at the Morgan Library and Museum in New York, in the small gallery that houses the extraordinary exhibition of the work of the “Master of Claude de France” –an artist whose real name is not known, but so called because he created the Prayer Book of Claude de France and Claude’s Book of Hours, which is also shown. A special bonus for me was that Anne’s Book of Hours was also exhibited—I am so fascinated by that book, commissioned by Anne herself to teach her first son, who died before he was three.

The featured piece is the 2 3/4 x 2 inch, Prayer Book of Claude de France, which could almost be a piece of jewelry, so exquisite is the art and detailing in its 132 miniatures—primarily a series of depictions of the lives of Jesus and the saints, with each page embellished by the royal symbols to which I often refer in my novel. Claude commissioned this work around 1517, when she was crowned queen at the age of 17 after the recent deaths of her mother Queen Anne and father, Louis XII, who was succeeded by her husband Fran├žois I.

The comments of the curators emphasize another critical emotion that preoccupied the lives of Claude and her mother—their duty to bear a son who would become king, and guided her instructions to the artist. Sadly, Anne‘s nine pregnancies did not produce a son who lived; but Claude’s seven pregnancies resulted in the birth of King Henri II.

The Morgan Library and Museum gallery includes other works by the Master and other royal artists and provides digital access to the Prayer Book via an iPad and Anne’s Book of Hours on its website.

http://Morgan Library